Olson – District 34 House Candidate
Tell the voters a little bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you stand for?
I’m Jess Olson. I’m the current representative in District 34 for the House. And I, you know, I live and raise my family in District 34. I love it. My kids go to school there. We have our careers here in Rapid City.
And one of the reasons I love supporting and representing our area is that I truly understand what the voters are going through. I live it every day. I’m a working mom. I have kids in school. And so I take it very seriously because every vote we take affects all of our lives. And I have served for two terms. I’m seeking reelection for my third term.
What do you see as the biggest public safety issue facing the district and how do you plan to address it?
That’s a great question. So I am really, I think we’re very grateful and lucky in District 34 that we have a pretty safe district. And we have to thank our sheriff and our, our chief of police and all they do as first responders to keep us safe.
There tends to be a more local control issue than a legislative issue, but we do have it on the horizon. There’s talk of having a new police station in District 34. And I support that because it helps all of us have a safer life and keep that quality of life for our future generations.
Rapid City and the Black Hills region are poised for perhaps the biggest economic growth ever seen around here. What do you think needs to be addressed first?
Again, really wonderful focus on the growth here. I have been very helpful and supportive of the Ellsworth expansion. And that’s going to bring workers. And I think as we look at the growth for our community, we have businesses looking to come here. And it is key that we have workforce development. That’s been one of my platform issues.
We want people to be working and getting to work. It helps businesses grow. It helps our tax base and so that we can keep our taxes low. So our key focus should be supporting the new people coming in and getting them to work.
How do you balance economic and population growth with current residents’ desire to preserve the natural beauty of the Black Hills?
I think we’ve had a great focus on the beauty of the Black Hills. It’s why people want to come here. And if we do this correctly, and we have support and a strategic plan, we can continue to grow and maintain the beauty. So I’m an employer. I have employees here. I know what businesses face and they’re all looking for employees.
So we have to be open to that growth. And if we all come together and we know that our values are the beauty of the Black Hills, I think we can make that happen.
If the voters send you to Pierre, what specifically will be your highest priority in the next Session?
That’s another great question. So one of my priorities has always been adoption and foster care. And I was very pleased this last year to be able to successfully pass funding that supports adoption and foster care. It’s one of the first investments we’ve made to really support those families and make stronger families for South Dakota. So I want to continue that.
My focus has always been children and families and making South Dakota stronger. I’m looking at education initiatives so that we can have the best education, because we are tasked with having funding public education as legislators. So let’s make our public education the best one in the nation.
And I think that we focused a lot on quality housing and that that goes with that growth. So again, when you have when you’re looking down the line, it’s housing, it’s education, and then that turns into a very viable work, workforce.
Looking beyond the next Session, what is your vision for the region and the state?
So I think we always want to be keeping in mind how do we keep South Dakota Number One? We’re one of the best places. We have a low tax rate. That’s a great thing for starting businesses. We’re low regulation. So we always want to maintain the low taxes, low regulations so that businesses can start and thrive. That gets ideas out there. They become a reality. People get jobs. It invigorates our community. And so whenever we’re looking at these items, it’s like the education and the workforce. How can we bring people in, educate them, retain them, so that we keep South Dakota at Number One?